The show, which opens today at the Rome Area History Museum, is a retrospective. It includes over 50 pieces of artwork by Finster, including pieces from private collections and directly from Paradise Garden, Finster’s Summerville home and studio.
“You wouldn’t be able to see this at just any gallery,” said Leigh Barba, R.A.H.M’s executive director. “We have many of his early pieces as well as some that are from private collections. As teenagers my friends and I would visit Howard and buy little pieces we could afford. Some of those are even included in the exhibit.”
Finster’s eccentric behavior did as much for his popularity as his work did. A minister, Finster claimed to receive visions from God who told him to create 5000 pieces to spread his word throughout the world. Finster worked feverishly, day and night at his Summerville home, creating thousands of paintings, covering walls, furniture and even found objects.
His work was reached pop-culture fame when it was used on the album covers for bands including R.E.M and The Talking Heads, taking Finster’s work and folk art in general, to a new audience.
Finster’s art was displayed in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe.
“It teaches lessons and shows his visions,” Barba said. “It combined art, faith and pop culture. This exhibit will be fun and eclectic. Very avant-garde. There are even a few patriotic objects as well.”
The Howard Finster retrospective is being exhibited in conjunction with Rome Area Council for the Arts and the Paradise Garden Foundation.
A reception takes place at the museum today from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include a screening of a film about Finster’s life and work. The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibit runs through July 7 at the Rome Area History Museum, 305 Broad St. The museum will be open July 4.